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CDCR coaches, volunteers hit home run

Thanks to the hard work, planning, and collaborative efforts of CDCR central region coaches and a Television Specialist, a recent Home Run Derby was a smashing success.

The correctional coaches behind the effort included:

  • Bryan Eskew, Avenal State Prison
  • Doug Moran, Pleasant Valley State Prison
  • Heidi Wippel, California State Prison, Corcoran

Normalization through sports, activities

A foundational pillar of the California Model is normalization, which seeks to create prison environments that more closely resemble California communities. Recreation programs like this one provide inspiration to athletes at California’s institutions.

To capture the spirit of the event, Television Specialist Hugh Neely created a video to show the impact community volunteers make on the incarcerated population.

Mastery Prison Ministries provided four days of softball and fellowship through their Home Run Derby, coordinated through CDCR coaches.

“This was a positive influence for incarcerated persons who have spiritual need in their lives,” said organizers.

Founder Michael Hamilton shared his message and offered Christian materials to the participants.

At Pleasant Valley State Prison, Coach Moran said they were excited to welcome their first outside recreational event in 26 years.

As part of the strategic plan, recreation programs like this one provide inspiration to athletes at the institutions.

Office of Correctional Education Superintendent Shannon Swain said these events are part of the overall rehabilitation efforts.

“We believe in the transformative power of education to change lives. The vast majority of students we serve in our classrooms, libraries, workshops and gymnasia will be returning to their communities,” said Swain. “They will be our neighbors, friends, colleagues, and associates. Correctional Education is a wise investment in public safety, and in the power of the human spirit to continuously grow, adapt, and learn.”

Sports play important role in rehabilitation

Sports and recreation are important pieces of the rehabilitation plan. Incarcerated participants often speak about how these activities humanize their experience in prison.

During their incarceration, this provides strength and hope, helping focus their mind, body, and spirit, allowing meaningful rehabilitation to take place behind prison walls.

Physical Education (PE) and Recreation (REC) offer various activities and courses for the incarcerated population.

Activities include intramural leagues, team tournaments, individual sports, board games, and courses on personal health and fitness including those with physical limitations or challenges.

In this way, the Correctional Coaches of CDCR are fulfilling the rehabilitative mandate of the Office of Correctional Education.

Story by Heidi Wippel, Recreational Coach
Video by Hugh Neely, TV Specialist
California State Prison, Corcoran

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Learn more about the California Model on the CDCR website.